“Head Start delivers the goods for America’s poorest children and their families.”
— Sarah Greene, former President and CEO of the National Head Start Association
Both Early Head Start and Head Start are designed to give young children a “head start” on education, while supporting parents in their role as the primary influence in their children’s education and development.
Head Start is a federal program that was created in 1965 to increase the school readiness of young children (ages 3 to 5) in low-income families. But Head Start is more than just a pre-school program: Head Start provides comprehensive education, health, and nutrition to low-income children and their families. Recognizing that parents are their children’s most important teachers, Head Start also works with parents to help them navigate the school system and sharpen their parenting skills.
With new research on brain development demonstrating the crucial importance of the first years of life, Early Head Start was created to promote healthy prenatal outcomes for pregnant women, enhance the development of very young children aged 0 to three, and promote healthy family functioning.
Both programs are designed to serve low-income families who reside in White Plains; family income must fall within federal poverty guidelines. FSW operates five Head Start locations in White Plains. Children in Head Start attend pre-school at one of these five locations.
Early Head Start
Early Head Start is both a home-based and FSW-based program for pregnant women and their newborns. Research on early brain development has demonstrated that, to thrive, children from birth to age 3 need a variety of positive learning experiences provided in a secure and loving environment. Early Head Start works with families to make sure that their children’s developmental needs are met. After a child reaches 12 months of age he/she is transitioned into a center-based program. The long-range goals of Early Head Start are to support the cognitive and language development, social and emotional development, and physical and mental health of the children with active and skilled parental involvement.
The Head Start program emphasizes cognitive and language development, social and emotional development, physical and mental health and parent involvement. Through Head Start, families establish a “medical home” where children receive ongoing routine health and dental care. In addition, parents have access to support programs that help the family move toward self-sufficiency. Within Head Start, four-year-olds can be enrolled in the Universal Pre-K Program, in collaboration with the White Plains City School District.
Does Head Start work?
Studies demonstrate that involvement in Head Start and Early Head Start significantly improves children’s health and their success in school.
The 2004 Head Start Family and Experiences Survey (FACES) found that despite severe socioeconomic handicaps that put them well behind the starting line from which more affluent U.S. children start, Head Start children surveyed were essentially at national norms in early reading and writing and close to catching up with national norms in early math and vocabulary knowledge.
The same study found that English Language Learners(ELLS) benefited from Head Start as well: For example, the proportion of ELLS with limited or no understanding of spoken English dropped from 35% to 13 %.
A national evaluation of Early Head Start found that 3-year-olds who participated in the program performed significantly better on a range of measures of cognitive, language, and social-emotional development than a randomly assigned control group. In addition, their parents scored significantly higher on many aspects of home environment and parenting behavior. Early Head Start also facilitated parents’ progress toward self-sufficiency.
With a generous grant from Target, FSW is working to improve literacy among Early Head Start/Head Start children and their families through “Music Together,” a research-based music and movement curriculum designed to promote early learning in music, language and math skills.
White Plains Locations:
Contact us about enrollment! Applicants must show proof of being a resident of the White Plains school district (utility bill, phone bill) and a birth certificate. Applicants must meet federal income eligibility requirements.
Director of Early Childhood Education Programs
Assistant Director of Early Childhood Education Programs
Family/Community Services Manager
Early Head Start Manager
914-428-8225, ext. 16